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September 12, 2005
His final words were simple and typically Benaud. "Thank you for having me,'' he said. "It's been absolutely marvelous. I've loved every moment of it.'
A little while before his last stint, the crowd at The Oval had been informed over the PA that Benaud was about to embrak on his final spell, and they reacted with spontaneous applause. The players also stopped and clapped.
"He knows his subject inside out and has a sense of timing and a wit that few people can match,'' Channel 4's Mark Nicholas, a former captain of Hampshire, said in an interview. Benaud, 74, insisted that he remained in love with the game, and was delighted to end with such a dramatic series. "It's my view, and people may disagree with it, that this series shades that tour,'' he explained. "And that's saying something.''
He will continue to be heard regularly in Australia where he recently signed a new three-year deal with Channel Nine. And Michael Slater, a co-commentator at Channel 4, hinted that Benaud would be looking for another extension at the end of that deal.
Benaud ended with some words of encouragement for the beaten Australians. "There are plenty of good young players around in Australia,'' he said. "They'll fight back very quickly.''
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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